Povetkin, a nomad from another decade, rides again

Welterweights, lightweights, feathers, they’re all better technically, quicker, busier. But it’s impossible not to be drawn by the old dreadnoughts, the big bruisers, the heavyweights. This weekend fight fans can indulge the oldest of their pugilistic persuasions, as Russian veteran Alexander Povetkin offers Dillian Whyte a second opportunity to add his rusting hull to his resume.

Both men will hope to parlay a victory into a world title shot, the first for Whyte, the 27th for Povetkin. I exaggerate of course but there is a feeling of the perennial about the heavy-handed 41 year old. Briefly, he excited those searching in the detritus of the 1990s for a successor to the thrown abdicated by Iron Mike. For a moment or two it was a hefty clubber from New Zealand with a Don King do and then it was Povetkin.

Neither fulfilled the destructive promise of their youth. Tua grew ripe on the vine waiting for his mandated shot at Lennox and Povetkin, having first turned down a shot at Wladimir under the tutelage of Teddy Atlas, then slowed, thickened, like an over cooked borscht, and by the time he decided to say yes he wasn’t the threat he would have been when fresher and quicker.

If he beats Whyte again, he may get one more shot. And with his power, some natural, some acquired, one shot could be enough.

That’s the heavyweight appeal.

Continue reading “Povetkin, a nomad from another decade, rides again”

Necessity is the mother of invention, Bika to face Soliman

Two weeks ago I had the good fortune to speak to Sakio Bika ahead of his return to the ring against Australian middleweight Adam Stowe. Bika was bright, confident and determined to project himself toward bigger targets by winning convincingly in his first fight in 40 months. It was a practical stepping stone for a pragmatic former world-champion with a shrinking window of opportunity.

Within the week, pragmatism was replaced by disappointment as an administrative oversight by the Cameroon born Super-Middleweight left his fight with Stowe in tatters. The waiting crowd, eager to see a fighter of Bika’s calibre, were hard to placate when the realisation Bika wouldn’t be able to fight began to break. As a result, trouble ensued. Where Bika had hoped for a knockout and a new beginning, he found police dogs and pepper spray, fist fights and discontent.

It was a sobering episode in a long career. As with all things in boxing, from disaster grew opportunity.

Continue reading “Necessity is the mother of invention, Bika to face Soliman”

Undisputed Heavyweight Championship clash close to becoming reality

By Hector T. Morgan

Fantasy fights have long been a source of debate among boxing fans. Cross generational contests divide followers; Ali and Tyson, Mayweather and Leonard, the idea never ages, the passions evoked never cool. In the modern era, a time of fewer fights between the sport’s great and good, boxing fans are often left with only the fantasy debate to decide who is the best between two fighters who co-exist. Politics, money, broadcast platforms, sanctioning bodies, fear, they all play their role in keeping the best prize fighters apart.

The news Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, the best two heavyweights active today, are on the brink of signing to box each other this summer is, therefore, a subject of both excitement and cynicism among those same boxing fans. Excitement about the contest, the all too uncommon clarity it will provide for the heavyweight division duels with the enduring suspicion that fate or politics will intervene once more.

It is a tantalising fight, but dare we believe?

Continue reading “Undisputed Heavyweight Championship clash close to becoming reality”

To Hull and back and back and back again. Can Campbell upstage youthful Garcia?

And it’s never really happened to me (it’s happy hour again)

Don’t believe it, oh no

‘Cause it’s never really happened to me (it’s happy hour again)

The Housemartins, Happy Hour (1986)

Headlining this weekend’s Dallas card, boxing’s opening gambit of the New Year, will be British lightweight Luke Campbell versus the unbeaten Ryan Garcia. Campbell will be attempting to win a world title, if we include interim, at the third time of asking. His first two bids, against the exceptional Jorge Linares in 2017 and Vassily Lomachenko in 2019, ended in creditable defeats, the former, narrowly.

Those represented contests against two of boxing’s most ennobled competitors. Fights in which Campbell played the role of the young challenger despite being of contemporary age to both. His fresh face belying his then 30 something years. On Saturday he can no longer hide from the passage of time and if he is to triumph and win the interim WBC title almost 9 years on from his Olympic Gold, he will do so as an ageing contender to the 22-year-old Garcia’s ‘turn’ as the youthful up and comer.

As a son of Kingston-upon-Hull, a place of originality and acute deprivation, he is inherently imbued with the stoicism and spirit to try.

Continue reading “To Hull and back and back and back again. Can Campbell upstage youthful Garcia?”

Wilder, the sense of loss and the loss of sense

We are the hollow men,

We are the stuffed men.

Leaning together

Head piece full of straw.

T.S. Eliot, Poet, 1888-1965

As weary eyed guests checked out of the MGM Grand hotel and post fight podcasts sieved through the detritus of the weekend like a hopeless gold rush miner searching for an undiscovered nugget, veteran reporter Lance Pugmire revealed deposed champion Deontay Wilder’s claim that the weight of his ring entrance outfit had stolen the sap from his legs and contributed to his downfall.

To the average Joe, it was a line without precedent and one met with universal dismay or good old fashioned laughter. Quite how above average Joes; Louis, Walcott and Frazier, would’ve greeted the revelation one can only speculate. Consensus might reasonably assume any responses that were printable would’ve been light on empathy.

Spare a thought for Don Rickles too, who will be fuming to have missed the chance to pen an entire 20 minute roast at the former WBC champion’s expense.

Continue reading “Wilder, the sense of loss and the loss of sense”

Fury returns from the abyss

“when you stare into an abyss for a long time, the abyss also stares into you.”

Nietzsche, 1886

As the thick black oil of sleep flooded through Tyson Fury’s gigantic body, the crackle of nervous energy that had powered his wit and reflex silenced, his senses immersed in unconsciousness; time, possibility and life all fell silent too. His body and mind in a temporal abyss, a place he had travelled close to in the darkness of the past three years, a destination boxing, until that moment, at the fists of her purest puncher, had saved him from.

In those moments, those precarious and precious seconds, Jack Reiss’ two palms and six digits casting a pale shadow over his blank, peaceful expression, something inside the 30-year old former champion stirred. Defining or quantifying the force or personal quality that drew Fury from the depths of the slumber Wilder’s right cross and left hook had plunged him in to is as close to impossible as the act itself. Continue reading “Fury returns from the abyss”

Fan friendly Kownacki rolls past Martin

“There are few virtues that the Poles do not possess.”

Winston Churchill  1874-1965

Frequently, fights or the entertainment derived from them, is generated by the flaws and weaknesses of its participants. The perfection, or apparent perfection, of Roy Jones, or Floyd Mayweather, could, sometimes leave a vacuum where the entertainment was meant to be. There was always much to admire, to marvel at, to appreciate because, as a boxing fan, you had to. Hit and not get hit, is the founding principle of boxing after all, and few exemplified it better than Jones and Mayweather.

But if offered the prospect of watching a Floyd Mayweather return bout and the opportunity to watch Adam ‘Baby Face’ Kownacki’s, 18-0 (14), next fight, regardless of his opponent, and I would opt for the latter. His victory on Saturday night versus Charles Martin, the former holder of an IBF Championship belt, if only briefly, introduced me to the unbeaten Pole and it was a meeting I, like many fight fans, enjoyed greatly. Continue reading “Fan friendly Kownacki rolls past Martin”

Bronze Bomber proves his mettle and greatness may yet await

Greatness is a product of many things, without a degree of innate talent the journey to such status is hard to even begin. It is a status that requires resistance, friction. Without a compilation of experiences that burnish and test the qualities of those who chase it, the talent beneath remains undiscovered or unresolved; an intangible or immeasurable ore.

In beating Luis Ortiz, beautifully described as the Cuban ogre by Kevin Mitchell at the Guardian in his preview, the WBC Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder finally, belatedly, took the opportunity to step toward the greatness he craves. Victory polished his record to a pristine 40-0 with 39 knockouts and the seventh round proved he was more than the sum of those shiny statistics. Continue reading “Bronze Bomber proves his mettle and greatness may yet await”

Flying over the cuckoo’s nest for the last time? Oliver McCall defeated

Anyone with a passing interest in heavyweight boxing over the past twenty years will hold a mental image of one sort or another of heavy punching former WBC champion Oliver McCall.

Whether it be the crunching right-hand which felled Lennox Lewis, his emotional implosion in the rematch or the various drug fuelled episodes which have blighted his attempts to construct another run at the championship he lost to a grateful Frank Bruno in 1995. One of them will be reside with you.

Last night at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel he dropped a clear decision to peripheral contender Timur Ibragimov, a loss that spells the end of any championship hopes the now 45-year-old may have held.

Continue reading “Flying over the cuckoo’s nest for the last time? Oliver McCall defeated”

Harrison, Haye and Klitschko. Among the madness, bluff and silence is there a fight to be found?

In an era before nutritionists, public relations and conditioners, during that simplistic period when heavyweights ran, hit-bag, sparred, chopped wood and often took a stiff drink or three the night before a fight it is hard to imagine how they would have viewed the flimsy media battle being contested by heavyweight trio David Haye, Klitschko and heaven help us Audley Harrison. It may be nostalgic romanticism to suggest fighters like Jack Dempsey or Jim Jeffries simply signed to fight an opponent, trained and then settled it in an often gruelling, unforgiving fight, but it is with some confidence that I propose they wouldn’t have been comfortable with the shallow misinformation all parties appear to be peddling even if avoiding opponents is an oft-overlooked aspect of boxing at the beginning of the 20th century too. Continue reading “Harrison, Haye and Klitschko. Among the madness, bluff and silence is there a fight to be found?”

Old? Check. Fat? Check. Unambitious? Check. Brian Nielsen next for Vitaly?

Did you hear the one about Vitaly Klitschko and the hungry, young contender? No, nor did I. Admittedly, Vitaly Klitschko hasn’t fought during a particularly glowing period for heavyweights. His tenure, interrupted by a now mysteriously cured knee problem, as the leading heavyweight began when Lennox Lewis retired and has continued through soporific contests with Danny Williams, Kirk Johnson, Corrie Sanders, Sam Peter, Juan Carlos Gomez, Chris Arreola and latterly Albert Sosnowski. So maybe, the revelation Danish pastry Brian Nielsen is making a comeback aged 45 will be welcome news in the Klitschko castle if nowhere else. Continue reading “Old? Check. Fat? Check. Unambitious? Check. Brian Nielsen next for Vitaly?”

Sosnowski, Subbuteo, Sanders, Snooker and me

I’ve always found an attic or loft to be a fascinating place. It probably originates from the joyous isolation it provided me as a child, resplendent with snooker table, dart board, train set and Subbuteo it was a place of dreams, solace and make-believe. On the baize I was Davis AND Higgins, on the Astropitch I was everyone from Peru to Peterborough and with darts in hand I was toothless Jocky Wilson and the Crafty Cockney.

Continue reading “Sosnowski, Subbuteo, Sanders, Snooker and me”

Moore and Rhodes step out of the shadows

WAROFTHEROSES-SMTwo of  British boxing’s longest serving fighters will clash tonight for the European Light-Middleweight title, a bout which doubles as an eliminator for the WBC world title belt, or at worst a qualifier to face Julio Cesar Chavez Junior in a final eliminator for a crown held by slippery Sergio Martinez. It will also offer an opportunity for both fighters to finally step out of the shadow contemporaries Ricky Hatton and Prince Naseem Hamed threw across their respective careers and prove the old boxing truism, that styles make fights. 

Continue reading “Moore and Rhodes step out of the shadows”

Exclusive: Witter v Alexander not for the title? WBC withdraw sanction!

wbc2In disturbing news, I’ve learned the WBC looks likely to withdraw sanction for the clash between Junior Witter and Devon Alexander due to a row over the assignment of officials. This weekend’s clash was to include Britain’s premier official, Richie Davies, as one of three ringside judges all assigned to the fight by the World Boxing Council. For reasons beyond the logic of any boxing observer, the Californian State Athletic Commission has rejected Davies. Presently, the fight will be officiated by a Californian and judged by officials from California, Mexico and Nevada and unless the stand-off is resolved, the WBC belt will not be on the line. Whether Witter would even go through with the fight without the prize is highly unlikely. Continue reading “Exclusive: Witter v Alexander not for the title? WBC withdraw sanction!”

BoxingWriter.co.uk readers go for Kessler

MikkelKesslerIn the immediate aftermath of Showtime’s exciting announcement of the Super Six tournament to be held at 168 pounds over the next two years, I asked readers to predict who they felt would emerge from the groundbreaking series as champion. As you might anticipate the outsiders, Andre Ward and Andre Dirrell only landed 2% of the votes cast but it was Danish hard-man Mikkel Kessler who fans felt most likely to prevail. 60% of the votes went to Kessler with Froch (21%), Abraham (9%) and Taylor (8%) trailing someway behind. Continue reading “BoxingWriter.co.uk readers go for Kessler”

Careful what you wish for; David Haye gets his appointment with destiny

DavidHayeFollowing an unfortunate series of injury induced withdrawals of late, notably Mayweather v Marquez, Kotelnik v Khan, Haye v Wladimir Klitschko, fans will be reluctant to presume David Haye’s mooted September 12th clash with 37 year old Vitali Klitschko is actually going to happen until the two men are staring across at each other with just a referee between them. However, in the interests of positivity – and the sport needs a pick me up following the sad loss of Gatti, Arguello and Caldwell in the past week – I’m willing to celebrate the news David Haye finally has his chance to back up his words with actions. Continue reading “Careful what you wish for; David Haye gets his appointment with destiny”

Froch rolling with the big guns

frochOriginally, the news Carl Froch was to feature in a six man round robin over two years on American network Showtime was met with little more than pithy sarcasm at BoxingWriter towers but now, two days later, it seems the proposed Froch, Taylor, Kessler, Abraham, Dirrell and Ward tournament is genuine and will begin with Froch v Dirrell in October – a twin venue double bill with Abraham v Taylor live from Germany. Continue reading “Froch rolling with the big guns”

The view from portside; will Klitschko really pick a southpaw?

lefthandedSince the disappointment of David Haye’s withdrawal from this year’s biggest heavyweight title fight and a potential record breaking event to boot it has been widely assumed Ruslan Chagaev would prove to be the natural replacement for the former Cruiserweight king. Similarly shorter than Wladimir, with a reliance on speed and movement the WBA champion is a far more obvious replacement, physically at least, than Nikolay Valuev, the near 7ft Russian who offers a polar opposite opponent than the one the younger Klitschko has spent many weeks preparing for. Bu this thesis overlooks one obvious factor, the 6ft Uzbekistan fighter is a left-hander. Continue reading “The view from portside; will Klitschko really pick a southpaw?”

Guest: Wladimir doth protest too much; Dr Steel Hammer indeed

andrew-mullinderRegular visitors will be accustomed to the acerbic analysis of Andrew Mullinder, our resident correspondent in Moscow. I’m sure Andrew has all the usual creature comforts we enjoy in the West but I prefer to adapt the usual visual triggers employed by third rate cold war thrillers to conjure an image of Andrew huddled over an ageing type writer, all fingerless gloves, one bar fires  and cheap vodka, manically venting on the issues of the day from his down trodden apartment block in some mafia run ghetto. Why? Well it just makes sense of his withering contributions, and the latest, a deconstruction of the most artificially created ring moniker in boxing must have come after a slurp or two of the strong stuff. Continue reading “Guest: Wladimir doth protest too much; Dr Steel Hammer indeed”

“Deep water and hope he can swim”. Yada, yada, yada; Jermain Taylor leans on cliche

drowningI’m excited about the WBC Super-Middleweight contest between Nottingham’s Carl Froch and Arkansas’ Jermain Taylor,  it pitches two fighters together who are in their respective primes. It doesn’t rely on nostalgia, nor does it feature a network favourite and a cherry picked opponent. It isn’t quite the choice Froch has framed it to be, pursuing Taylor is noble given the posturing of preceding champions in the selection of foes, but Taylor, lest we forget, is Froch’s mandatory as he won a vacant title and Taylor beat Lacy in a final eliminator. However, for all the glass half full gloss it still beats Taylor’s reliance on an age old cliche to promote the fight. Continue reading ““Deep water and hope he can swim”. Yada, yada, yada; Jermain Taylor leans on cliche”

The Great Guzman and the WBA’s weight of responsibility

It might be the stiff wind from the Urals which makes guest writer Andrew Mullinder such a cantankerous observer of the noble art. Mullinder is not implored to write by the science or the beauty of boxing, only the muck, the politics and the fractious infrastructure of the sport evoke his withering invective. His latest target is the WBA, for whom the dietary plans of Joan Guzman appear to have been but a distant theme from a distant land. Mullinder thinks its time governing bodies started, well, governing. Continue reading “The Great Guzman and the WBA’s weight of responsibility”

Awkward as ever, Junior Witter speaks out

Defining Junior Witter’s style has stumped greater minds than mine. Unorthodox is the ubiquitous descriptive and through generic, probably the most accurate. The former WBC Light-Welterweight champion is almost impossible to pigeon-hole, once the slippery, pitter-patter runner he blossomed into a destructive two fisted puncher but threw in enough disjointed performances to never fully engage the Yorkshire public or television audiences. Now as a former, rather than current World champion the one thing he is, without fear of contradiction, is avoidable. Continue reading “Awkward as ever, Junior Witter speaks out”

Venerable Manuel Medina fights on

For all the criticism I aim at the likes of Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones and Evander Holyfield for their unwillingness to accept the passing of time and talent and for all the disappointment I feel hearing Marco Antonio Barrera and Chris Byrd are set to return to action it conversely provides great comfort to learn plucky veteran Manuel Medina is still performing close to his best well into his thirties. James Toney and Vitali Klitschko may garner more attention but neither has contested the number of world-titles the 37 year old Mexican has.

Continue reading “Venerable Manuel Medina fights on”

Klitschko persistence; Peter in October

Vitali Klitschko, 37, was never a great fighter. He certainly wasn’t a great heavyweight champion. In fact, I’d go further I’d say he was a poor heavyweight champion and little more than a mediocre fighter. Like many in the curious, contrary world of boxing his repute grew more in gritty defeat to an ageing Lennox Lewis than in any of his victories, of which I would struggle to summon a single performance of historic significance.

Continue reading “Klitschko persistence; Peter in October”

Hope grows for Froch v Pascal

A quick note to connect up the stories and theories currently swirling around the Super-Middleweight division. Interesting to record Jean Pascal has withdrawn from the purse process for his proposed fight with Karoly Balzsay for the Interim WBO title – the belt Calzaghe is porbably keenest to remain custodian of. As mentioned in conversation on Steve Bunce’s boxing hour on Setanta, Pascal is the next most likely opponent for Carl Froch if the much maligned preference of Lou DiBella and HBO to match Jermain Taylor with Jeff Lacy comes to pass. Continue reading “Hope grows for Froch v Pascal”

Boxing: Broken men; Froch and Lacy

As children, we all pushed our noses to the shop windows, whether it be sweets, a BMX or a Scalectrix set. We’ve all steamed up the glass to try and get closer to our dream. Poor old Carl Froch must still feel like the child on the wrong side of the glass watching the rich kids tucking into mountains of Fruit Salads, Gobstoppers and Coconut mushrooms. Despite a long unbeaten record, status as the WBC number one contender and victories over peripheral players like Brian Magee, Robin Reid, Henry Porras and Matthew Barney he remains sweet less, friendless and excluded in the Super-Middleweight scene. The news Jeff Lacy laboured to another points victory last night will not have cheered the spirits of the confident puncher. Continue reading “Boxing: Broken men; Froch and Lacy”

Behind enemy Lynes against bucking, ducking Branco

Most writers will confess to soft spots for certain fighters. I pointed out my own affection to John Ruiz, the most unloved of heavyweights, only this week but the reasoning or events that form and fuel these affiliations are often curious and minuscule. It doesn’t stop at boxing, I always urged old Rex Williams on in the snooker championships because we share a birthday. Tenuous but a rivet-strong bond all the same. Colin Lynes is another fighter for whom I always wish good fortune.

Continue reading “Behind enemy Lynes against bucking, ducking Branco”

Hatton v Witter, goes down the ……

It was painful to view. And my scorecard reflected my desire to prolong the feint hope of Junior Witter finally securing the chance to face arch-rival Ricky Hatton before both got too old or too fat for anyone to care. Placing the credit for the victory at the door of Ricky Hatton, given it was young Timothy Bradley in the ring throwing punches, would be ungracious and unfair but there was certainly a shadow of the wealthy Hitman over the split decision triumph for the American. Continue reading “Hatton v Witter, goes down the ……”

Witter faces the curse of two first names

Every one of us lives by certain unfathomable rules; idiosyncratic lines we never venture across. Superstitions or clichés collected from life experience or bestowed from those who formed us. “Never drink in pubs near the market in a strange town” my Dad always implored, a directive I wish I’d adhered to when I was in Stoke-On-Trent in the early nineties but that’s another story.

Continue reading “Witter faces the curse of two first names”

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